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Education is more than just lessons

The fourth Sunday of September each year is designated Education Day by the diocese of Hong Kong. It is the beginning of a new school year and a time when we are reminded to pray for our students, educational work and policies, and to pay more attention to education issues.
The theme this year, You are the light of the World (Matthew 5:14), underscores that Jesus Christ is the light of the world and the education should not only help young people to come to know Jesus, but also that educators show them how to best make use of their talents. 
During a meeting with members of the Congregation for Catholic Education in June, Pope Francis reiterated that those who are involved Catholic education should nurture teenagers so that new generations can build a more united and peaceful world together. 
At the opening of the Vatican offices of the Scholas Occurrentes Foundation, the pope said, “Education is not about knowing things or taking lessons, but about being able to use three languages: those of the head, the heart, and the hands.” He said this means “learning so that you can think about what you feel and do, can feel what you think and do, and can do what you feel and think. Unity within a person.”
Hong Kong today is disunited, with public opinion falling into two extremes. Therefore, education needs to be inspiring in order to help young people understand the current situation. 
In the today’s world, anyone can express an opinion through avenues such as social media, but sometimes the may not be using their freedom to do so with the wisdom to recognise truth. 
The anxiety and anger that can be expressed through these views may breed suspicion, jealousy and hatred. Thus, it is essential for education to touch the hearts of young people to help them to give witness to the truth with love.
There are currently over 250 Catholic schools in Hong Kong attended by 150,000 students. Catholic educators can bring Catholic values to teenagers and their families to plant the seeds of encounter and dialogue between faith, society and culture.
Catholic schools have, in recent years, launched many innovative activities which have enhanced the quality of teaching. These include multi-disciplinary collaboration, experience-oriented outdoor learning or exchange programmes, as well as school musicals which involve many students. Every activity requires tremendous effort from teachers and students.
Education Day reminds us that despite a busy school life, we cannot ignore the spiritual development young people. It would be a shame if other aspects of education are well formed but young people’s spiritual needs are neglected.
Education cannot ignore love and care, particularly in the teacher-student relationship. If we focus only on academic performance without recognising that students and teachers are unique individuals as well as protagonists in education, we seriously diminish the value of all school plans.
As the new school year commences, let us keep education and students in our prayers. SE